Fishing is a career unlike any other. Those who stick with it were born to do it - even if they weren't born into it. But it's not an easy career to get into anymore. Today's fisheries face unprecedented challenges - including barriers to entry in licensing, a shortage of training and financing opportunities, an unsupportive regulatory environment, and an ever more stressed and changing marine ecosystem.
These challenges make me all the more grateful to those who have welcomed me into this industry by giving me a spot on deck and exposing me to new gear types and fisheries. I'm especially grateful to other women in the industry, even those I don't personally know, because they have paved a path for the rest of us to find our calling in this line of work.
Today, most of my fishing time takes place aboard the F/V Oceana, a gill netter out of Point Judith, RI, where I work as a deckhand from April-November each year. I also help out on Wickford Oyster Farm, and dry-dig for quahogs, oysters, and razor clams along the shores of Narragansett Bay and RI's salt ponds. For twelve summers, I migrated to the famed Bristol Bay, Alaska - promised land of salmon fishing - where I worked on a gill netter and a salmon cannery. Fishing is a seasonally dynamic livelihood, and it never gets boring!
The photo at left shows me with a tautog caught on the F/V Oceana. The tag in its gill is a regulatory requirement that enables fisheries managers to track the number of tautog caught by RI fishermen.